Spotlighting Sumiso-Somen – The Local Summer Dish of Aichi Prefecture
Located in the heart of Japan, Aichi Prefecture is known as a manufacturing hub and home to some of Japan’s largest factories. Aside from its economic output, it is also the source of many delicious cuisines, hallmarked by Hatcho miso, a variety of red miso. One such dish is Sumiso-Somen, a refreshing summer-time staple.
Hatcho miso is made from soybeans, fermented using koji mold over the span of one to three years depending on the level of concentration that is desired. Unlike white miso, Hatcho miso tends to be highly sour and rich, leading to an astringent taste that for some, needs to be acquired.
A staple food for those in Aichi Prefecture, Hatcho miso is incorporated into a variety of their dishes, from ‘Miso-stewed Udon’ or ‘Miso Tonkatsu’. During summer, Sumiso Somen is a popular dish due to its high nutritional value from the minerals and salts of the Hatcho miso and the added vinegar that makes it a light meal amidst the intense summer humidity.
As the Hatcho miso and vinegar are slow to perish, it also provides an easy meal to prepare. Boiled somen noodles are coated lightly in vinegar and topped with a generous dollop of Hatcho miso. Adding a splash of dashi stock is also optional to mellow out the astringency of the vinegar. Common summer vegetables to add include sesame seeds, grated ginger and cucumber.
The result? A light dish balancing rich umami, saltiness, and the velvety noodles into a clean and tangy summer dish to nourish the body. For those visiting Aichi Prefecture, Sumiso-Somen is an ideal choice of meal for a midday sightseeing break.